By now, we have heard bits and pieces of Tiger Wood’s sex scandal. He took a hiatus from golf for about four months to go through rehab, supposedly treated for sex addiction. Now he’s back — and better than ever?
At press time, Woods was a favorite to win the 2010 Masters in Augusta, Ga., which runs April 5–11, with the competitive round beginning on April 8. Viewership and interest in the tournament is at an all-time high.
The draw is not so much the game itself as it is the press and public’s frank curiosity about how Tiger will perform after four months in hiding.
Before the Masters on April 5, Woods answered questions at his first press conference that was open to the public since news broke about his affairs. He answered 34 minutes’ worth of questions. Some of them he answered, others he evaded. Through it all, he really tried to sell his contrition.
“I lied to a lot of people,” he said. “I deceived a lot of people, kept people in the dark, rationalized, lied to myself. When I stripped all that away and realized what I’d done, the full magnitude of it — it’s pretty brutal.”
From our perspective, we are in no position to grant forgiveness for his transgressions. That’s between him, his wife, and his children. However, some people on blogs and op-eds have said that the media frenzy surrounding his scandal is excessive and that he never represented himself as someone who was perfect — and we disagree with that. Before the scandal broke, Woods was the most popular athlete in the world, with scads of endorsement deals, due in large part to his wholesome image.
We were skeptical when he said during the press conference that “winning golf tournaments is irrelevant to the damage I’ve caused.”
Sure, he did take a four-month hiatus, but as many have pointed out, those four months are usually the quietest months in golf. If it was truly not about winning tournaments, choosing to make a return at the Masters seems to belie that point.
So what can Woods do to really prove he’s changed and get all those sponsors and fans back?
The implication surrounding his messy transgressions is that he doesn’t seem to respect women. A way to make up for this is to find ways to support women through philanthropy. There are so many women who have suffered domestic violence and abuse. Getting involved in bettering the lives of women who have suffered will help show that he is sincere.
Results from a national media study from HCD Research among 1,200 Americans reveal that the average ratings of favorability toward Woods increased after watching clips from his press conference. Yes, we can be great fans of him as an athlete, but his prowess on the green is not a moral free pass.
Perhaps the ones to suffer most from his transgressions are his kids, who are very young. If we were Woods, we’d spend more time directly raising the kids rather than relying on their mother, Elin Nordegren, and a nanny. Now, given a second chance, he shouldn’t spend it chasing after endorsements. ♦